Our guest blogger Lou Vickers-Willis was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes when she was only 27. So, how has it changed her life, and what advice would she give others? Here she explains why everyone with the condition needs diabetic wing-people!
Lost and Confused
Living with Type 2 Diabetes is a delicate balancing act sometimes. When I was first diagnosed at 27, it was met with disbelief, not just from myself, but from other people, including my healthcare professionals. In some cases they looked at me and struggled to treat me like I was someone with Type 2 Diabetes.
One of them even said to me: “You must be Type 1 – you’re not overweight, you aren’t over 45 and you have no history of it in your family.”
Having the added bonus of being adopted and not knowing my family medical history meant that I felt alone, confused and limited in my knowledge of how to manage my newly diagnosed condition.
A year later, I was invited to a Diabetes Victoria information session for young people living with Type 2 Diabetes, called Generation T2. I felt great empowerment sitting in a room full of other people with whom I shared a common bond.
Knowing I wasn’t the only one who worried about complications and where to get relevant information meant that I was well on my way to getting connected, and that’s when I feel my life with diabetes started.
Diabetes is Different for Everyone
There are things that certainly do help though. I put together the following list with the help of a Facebook group that I help run for young people (or the young at heart) with Type 2 Diabetes.
- Keep on top of things, whether it’s regular exercise, testing blood glucose levels (BGLs), regular appointments with healthcare professionals, or regularly taking medications.
- Know what works for you: I know that if I’m stressed in any kind of way, my BGLs shoot higher, so reducing stress for me is a must. I’ve also found that certain kinds of foods do the same thing. Lentils are not my friend!
- Find healthcare professionals who want to work with you. Dealing with diabetes is a team effort. I’ve found the best support I’ve had has come from doctors and diabetes educators who’ve taken the time to ask me what I think or feel. Being part of the conversation creates empowerment.
- Get connected: I believe everyone who has diabetes needs diabetic wing-people in their lives. This might be a group of people you connect with online, like the Oz Diabetes Online Community who meet on Twitter each Tuesday at 8.30pm AEST and talk about all things diabetes. Follow @OzDiabetesOC to check it out. Or it could be a Facebook group or real-life friends with diabetes who you can talk to and who understand the highs and lows of having this condition.
Here’s to Health!
Connect with Lou on Facebook!
Another way to connect with others with Type 2 Diabetes is to join the Facebook group Young Adults With T2 Diabetes – anyone is welcome.
Having Type 2 Diabetes might be a tough balancing act at times, but it has actually made me healthier. It’s made me take notice of my health and has enriched my life with a lot of diabetic wing-people!
National Diabetes Week 2014 is on right now, from 13 to 19 July – check your diabetes risk here. Sign up now for 12WBT and manage your Type 2 Diabetes symptoms by improving your diet, losing weight and staying motivated.
Lou Vickers-Willis lives in country Victoria and has been passionate about being a voice for young people with Type 2 Diabetes since she was diagnosed three years ago. She is also active in the wider diabetes communities and is a moderator for the Facebook group Young Adults With T2 Diabetes. You can follow her on Twitter – @shootinstarslou.